Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger praised the patience of his side after a second-half double from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain helped them return to the top of the Barclays Premier League with a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium.
It looked all set to be another frustrating afternoon for the Gunners following a dogged display by the Eagles, who are fighting for top-flight survival.
However, 20-year-old England midfielder Oxlade-Chamberlain - fit again following five months out with a serious knee injury suffered on the first day of the season - finally ended Palace’s stubborn resistance when he chipped in a fine pass from Santi Cazorla just after the restart.
Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny produced a brilliant save to deny Cameron Jerome an equaliser from a close-range diving header before Oxlade-Chamberlain struck again to make sure of victory when he combined with Olivier Giroud before running clear to beat Julian Speroni again on 73 minutes. Arsenal now move two points above Manchester City, who host third-placed Chelsea tonight.
“We needed to get three points and it was difficult because Palace are very well-organised with a big physical quality,” said Wenger, without deadline day loan arrival Kim Kallstrom, the Sweden midfielder recovering from a back problem.
“We needed to be patient, intelligent and use our opportunities that most of the time come in the second half. That is what we did.
“Our defensive stability allows us to continue the way we want to play, even if we don’t score early goals.
“At home we don’t concede and that of course means you don’t have to rush your game too much.”
Wenger was impressed with the contribution of Oxlade-Chamberlain: “I always believed that he could play wide and central, I said that many times that his future will be central. He has proven me right today.”